Texas Pinball Festival 2023, part 2: Friday qualifying and a brief trip onto the show floor

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Texas Pinball Festival 2023

After getting a good night’s sleep and waking up early Friday morning, it was time to head up to the tournament room. This year, the registration desk position during the practice hour was my only shift. As previously mentioned, the volunteers for this shift got their own practice time in the half-hour between 9:30 am and 10:00 am, without having to fight the usual practice queues–a really nice perk on its own.

As it turned out, the other volunteer on the shift did most of the registration-related work; I helped move a game as well as put up a sign regarding unavailability of one of the doors as an entrance to the tournament room. Practice went smoothly; I feel like I got a feel for each game in the lineup except for Taxi (which I skipped over and forgot to go back to–oops!).

And so after taking a brief walk around the concourse to clear my head, I began my qualifying attempts. Following is the log from DTM, with commentary interspersed. (This year times were in local time from the beginning, so no adjustment was needed.) An asterisk (*) denotes a score that was later superseded by a higher score. An octothorpe (#) denotes a score that was lower than the previous high score to that point that does not qualify for an asterisk (i.e. an entry that many players would just ask to be voided).

Mar 24, 10:22am Foo Fighters 27,243,320

I chose to start the qualifying run with a game I had never played before. The only reason I chose this game is the queue was either short or non-existent (I think the latter, but I didn’t take notes on things like this).

Mar 24, 10:29am Firepower 70,900 *
Mar 24, 10:33am Firepower 85,100
Mar 24, 10:37am Wild Fyre 61,560 *
Mar 24, 10:45am Spirit of 76 16,440 *

A lot of real stinkers here. I know I’ve put up much better scores on Firepower, I have never played the latter two games before but these are clearly not my best efforts (though I would do better later, as noted).

Mar 24, 11:20am Taxi 1,188,200

My first attempt on Taxi, the game I skipped during practice. It was really hard to make the ramps on this game, it felt like one of the Taxi machines I had played in the early 1990s in arcades that just didn’t give a toot about maintenance.

Immediately following this game on Taxi was when I was queued up to play Alien Poker. Escher Lefkoff, the #1 ranked player in the world at the time of this tournament, put up a score of 1,147,980 which was good for first place on this game at that point in time (it would eventually settle down to 13th). I could have chosen to switch queues after seeing that, but I instead chose to step right up and try my best.

Mar 24, 11:36am Alien Poker 588,020

I forget where this score was right after I played it, but it would eventually settle all the way down to 53rd. I want to say it was somewhere near the bottom of the top 20.

Mar 24, 11:40am Alien Poker 50,170 #

This was an immediate re-queue on the same machine as I believe nobody was waiting (or the player in queue was not present when called). I did so poorly this time that I actually tilted one ball during this game–not good.

Mar 24, 1:02pm Volley 45,030 *
Mar 24, 1:08pm Volley 53,610 *

I enjoyed playing Volley. I had felt at the time these were at least decent scores; as it turns out “decent” in this qualifying run wouldn’t start until around 100K.

Mar 24, 2:11pm Godzilla 13,296,860

This score on Godzilla was one I knew straight away was not going to get it done. I quickly decided to move on to other games.

Mar 24, 2:28pm Grand Prix 318,280
Mar 24, 2:49pm Grand Prix 297,460 #

Another case where I immediately re-queued on the same game and it didn’t work out.

Mar 24, 3:33pm Wild Fyre 276,550

There’s a big six-hour gap after this last score. This was the point at which I went back to my hotel room and took what I had planned to be a short break, but which wound up being around a four-hour nap. The original plan was for me to pause qualifying and watch one or both of the movies being screened in the seminar room; I woke up close to 8 pm when the documentary about Roger Sharpe had already started, and I still had not eaten dinner yet.

I had dinner (a beef quesadilla with a Coke) and after finishing up, walked back over to the tournament room to finish playing my entries. Toward the end of the qualifying run I was choosing games based on the likelihood I could improve upon my previous score and thus improve my ranking.

Mar 24, 9:42pm Walking Dead 27,156,700

I thought this was a decent score but it was about 1.4M short of the threshold to get even a single ranking point (Shawn Lee’s score of 28,537,190 was the eventual cutoff).

Mar 24, 9:52pm Mars Trek 216,300 *
Mar 24, 9:58pm Black Knight 475,710
Mar 24, 10:10pm Mars Trek 517,600
Mar 24, 10:19pm Atlantis 29,830
Mar 24, 10:25pm Firepower 38,300 #
Mar 24, 10:40pm Spirit of 76 40,760
Mar 24, 10:45pm Volley 64,410

Finally, a somewhat decent score on Volley, though this too wasn’t anywhere near what I would need to rank (Christopher Doyle’s score of 73,740 was the cutoff).

Mar 24, 10:55pm Foo Fighters 10,296,500 #
Mar 24, 11:13pm Attack From Mars 653,167,330
Mar 24, 11:21pm Taxi 758,960 #

It was oddly appropriate that I end qualifying with three real stinkers, the last on Taxi. I’ve done so much better on Attack From Mars, but this time just couldn’t get anything going.

And so it ended. Dee-duh-duh-deet-deet, deet-deet.

At this point I’d like to note that this year, we had wi-fi available at no charge–a really nice touch, which enabled me to live-toot every single score without any technical issues whatsoever. I’d like to give a big thanks to Embassy Suites for this welcome change from last year.

The only thing left to do now was see if I would hang on to qualify for novice division, as any hope of making A division and B division had sailed. I wouldn’t know this until Saturday morning; I left the tournament area Friday night with some hope of still qualifying in novice.

With all 25 entries played, I headed down to the show floor to get in a few games before deciding to call it a night.

Miscellaneous/pre-tournament pictures:

Tournament entries:

Show floor scores:

Series Navigation<< Texas Pinball Festival 2023, part 1: The drive up from Houston, hotel check-in, and settling inTexas Pinball Festival 2023, part 3: Saturday >>